Thursday, January 10, 2013

Only to leave again

Dear friends,

I write this post to tell you that I will most likely be ignoring Mariel's Magics again for a year, as I embark upon a new endeavor. For the next year, I plan to study a new era every month. This will include researching the world at that time, wearing clothes from the era for a set amount of days, wearing my hair as girls then would, and perhaps even eating a few period accurate meals. I'm really excited about this experiment, and am starting a new blog to document it at A Past Life. I may invite a couple of people to join me, and add them to A Past Life. I hope to see you there!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

So, this month I've been pretty busy. There's a couple different reasons for this. The main reason is that I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo. I don't remember if I said anything last November about doing Nano, but the acronym is short for National Novel Writing Month. This event is for writers of all ages and skill levels, from anywhere you happen to call home. NaNoers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days, during the month of November. Camp Nano is basically the same, with 50,000 words in 30-31 days during June or August. I fell in love with NaNowrimo in November, and decided to try it again, but couldn't wait for this November came around.
See, last fall I created what I now consider my favorite character ever written. Her name is Mae Weatherby Pederson, and she is a holy terror of an old lady. The one all the neighborhood punks are afraid to mess with, and declares herself mother to any young person feeling lost in life. Who then proceeds to clean them up and chew them out when they do something cruel, or tells an amazing story to cheer them up. We didn't find out much about her past, only that she had a couple of biological children, and her husband had died many years before. No hint as to how she came to own a B&B in Grand Rapids, only hints about meeting Al Capone and being involved with speakeasies.
It turns out she used to own a speakeasy called Shenanigans, in 1920s Detroit. The bartender was one of her young proteges, a WWI veteran named Alex. When a Jewish flapper named Rivkah entered the scene, I knew I had to write their story. So it began, the novel titled Shenanigans, which is due to be finished this weekend, six days ahead of schedule. We'll see.
It's not just word vomit novels that have me feeling a little crazy. I'm also on the planning committee for my Quaker Meeting's 50th anniversary celebration in a couple weeks. September 8th and 9th are the days. On Saturday night we have a Michigan woman named Brenda Beadenkopf who will be speaking on the Underground Railroad in our watery state. I'm also supposed to do a small reading, perhaps 15 minutes long, which I'm thinking will be persona letters written in the civil war era. After that, we have Contra Dancing! Oh, lovely, wonderful dancing. I plan to have extremely sore feet the next morning.
Then, there's some family things going on, such as one of my cousins hoping for a baby next year, and three other cousins getting married. Lots and lots of first-cousins-once-removed in the future, I hope!
Sigh...Lots and lots of things going on. I'm also writing back and forth with my best friend (off to college this week), lots of Persona letters. Persona letters are delightful things. The first person chooses a time period and a character to live in it. Then, they write a letter to someone else as that character. The letter may be about daily life, or some new event that only looks ordinary at first glance. Or maybe they've just been kidnapped and sent to the moon. It doesn't matter, that's up to you. The second person chooses a character, and writes back to the first person.
There are no rules to Persona Letters (also called the Letter Game or Ghost Letters) except that your characters can never meet, and plot is not to be discussed in real life. Together, the two people end up weaving a story. One good example of Persona Letters is "Sorcery and Cecelia" by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. These two authors wrote as young ladies in the regency era, mixed up in magical politics that prove both worrying and amusing. It's a worthwhile read, for certain. I'd give it four to five stars, depending on my mood.
Something else I've been reading lately is the wonderful blog, Trauma Queen, by a man named Kal. He's a paramedic in Edinburgh, and tells amazing stories about his job. He recently took a trip to the Middle East to be medical personnel at the 'Desert Challenge', a large race through a lot of really dangerous scenery. Go read it if you want to know more. I very much doubt you'll regret it.
I should probably go now, since my wordcount is rising much slower than I'd like. Word vomit galore.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Best Fairy Tale Book Ever

This, Dean's 'A Book of Fairy Tales', is unquestionably the best and most gorgeous book of fairy tales in existence. It includes not only the more well-known stories, such as The Princess & the Pea, Beauty and the BeastThe Frog Princeand Little Red Riding Hood, but more obscure ones as well. My favorite of these less well-known stories is definitely The White Cat.
In this story, a king does not want to give up his kingdom so he send his three sons on a quest to find him a tiny dog for a companion when he gives up the throne. Whoever brings back the tiniest and prettiest little dog will become the next king. So the sons go their separate ways, trying to find a dog worthy of their father's attentions. The youngest prince becomes lost in a forest in a big storm, and must take shelter in a mysterious castle serves by ghostly hands and whose halls are paved with lapis-lazuli. He is greeted by a small white cat served by a court of cats, who invites him to stay. He agrees, and for a year he stays with the cat, seeing plays in the theatre and hunting. Eventually he must go back home to his own castle, but the white cat gives him a walnut to take with him, telling him that it holds the dog he needs.
The prince cracks open the nut before his father's court, and finds a walnut inside. Inside the walnut is an acorn, and inside the acorn is a cob-nut. I'm not certain what a cob-nut is, but it's tiny. Inside the cob-nut is a fluffy little dog that dances around and barks for the king and his court. Unfourtunatly, the king still doesn't want to forfeit his kingdom, and sends the sons on another quest. This time, he asks for a piece of muslin fine enough to thread through a needle. The prince returns to the White Cat, who puts on a fireworks display in honor of his return. After another year has passed, the White Cat, who by now has been named as Blanchette, gives the prince a Brazil Nut. Then she puts him in a coach and sends him off home to his father, though the prince only wishes to stay and spend time with her.
When the youngest prince gets home, his brother's muslin is only fine enough to go through the eye of a very large needle. So he cracks his Brazil Nut, and finds a hazel nut. Inside the hazel nut is a cherry pit, which cracks to reveal its kernel. Inside the kernel is a grain of wheat, which contains a millet seed. By now everyone is laughing, and the youngest prince is ready to give up, but the feeling of a cat scratching his arm makes him open the millet seed. Out pours a piece of muslin as fine as  mist, that passes through the eye of the smallest needle six times. The king agrees that the youngest prince has won again, but says that a king must have a queen to rule by his side. He gives his sons another year to find themselves each a beautiful princess for a wife. The youngest prince tells this to Blanchette, and she tells him that by the end of the year he will have a lovely princess to take home with him.
So, when the time comes, he goes to Blanchette and sadly asks where the princess is that he must marry. In response, she gives him a sword and tells him to cut off her head. The prince begs her not to make him do it, but she insists, and he finally agrees. The sword is swung, and instantly a lovely princess stands before him. Blanchette, the white cat, was actually Princess Blanchette, ruler of six kingdoms and formerly under a spell. All her courtiers come in, each carrying the skin of the cat they had been turned into. The prince and Blanchette go to his father, and Blanchette tells the king that he may keep his kingdom. She gives one of her kingdoms to each of the older brothers to rule with their new wives, and lives happily ever after with the youngest prince. And "The Prince and Princess had beautiful children who were all very, very fond of cats and kittens."

See, isn't that a lovely story? For the Community Folk Dance, Rosa and I plan to dress up as Blanchette, during and after the spell. Micah shall be one of the sword-wielding retainers. Wish us luck, and never lose your imagination!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Charlton Park Day

My feet hurt. From 10:30 to 4:00 today, I was standing up, and rubbing my fingers raw by teaching small children how to put a button on a string and turn it into a yo-yo-type toy. I broke three strings myself, I put my example toys through so much stress. Oh well, it was great fun, even if it was exhausting. Today was Charlton Park Day. I was working in the Lee Schoolhouse, and spending my little break time reading the schoolbook. I wore my hoop skirt, since it was in the mid-eighties, and there were several little girls in awe of the 'pretty lady'. I particularly liked one little cutie, about two years old. She was almost speechless, barely daring to reach out and touch the gingham fabric, and whispering 'pretty' every once in a while. Her grandma was trying to take a picture of her, but she refused to take her eyes off me long enough to smile for the camera! Imagine the wonders it did for my pride. I'm afraid I shall have quite a swelled head after this. ;) Charlton Park is an amazing place, though, and I'm delighted to volunteer there. Despite the sore feet.

~Emma the Button Lady. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


For the sake of this post, I'm going to assume that you've seen the New York Times cover with the woman breastfeeding her three-year-old.

Let me first say that I admire this woman greatly for daring to stand up and challenge the haters. An article I read this afternoon quoted her as saying that she herself was breastfed until age six. She is a healthy and independent woman, two of the arguments against extended nursing. My siblings and I were nursed until after our second birthdays, when we weaned ourselves. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, and the extra bond between mother and child lasts all their lives. I'm only fifteen, but I certainly plan to breastfeed any children I have in the future, and I will not be ashamed to do so.

I'm certain many people would tell women that any child over a certain age needs to unlatch. No matter what age, the mother certainly needs to cover up, they say. I will admit that the photograph is pretty immodest, but it's the news. Sex sells, and so does shock value. No woman I know would feed her child like this around the house, and certainly not in public. Not all children will breastfeed when covered up, either, and you can't force them to. If the sight of this offends you, I suggest you put on your blinders. You already own a pair.

My family has some personal history with breastfeeding prejudice. My own mom, a La Leche League leader and apprentice midwife, was at the social security offices in our city about seven years ago. She had my baby brother with her, and was breastfeeding him while she waited. Micah was only eight weeks old, and needed to eat. A woman who shall not be named here came up to my mother, and demanded that she cover up or leave. Demanded, not requested. My mother refused, as she had every legal and personal right to do. This small incident between two people led to local news coverage and a protest outside the building a couple of months later.

I guess what I'm trying to say with all this is that women have a right to nourish their children where and when they wish, and at any age.


Saturday, April 28, 2012


So, just recently I came across a new series by Scott Westerfeld, one that will probably remain a personal favorite for many years to come. The first book is titled Leviathan, and tells the story of two teenagers caught up in a steampunk version of WWI. Alek is a prince, son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie of Austria. When his parents are assassinated, Alek is forced to leave his home and seek shelter before he's targeted. Meanwhile, in London, a young woman named Deryn Sharp disguises herself as a boy to join the air-borne Navy. The stories of these two young adventurers and how their paths cross makes for a captivating story spanning three books. A cast of supporting characters, including the Perspicacious Loris, keeps you laughing during all but the tensest moments. Leviathan and its two sequels, Behemoth and Goliath, are books definitely worth reading.